The economy of scale for oil is unsustainable globally, we know that. (Well, some of us know that. Arconauts know that.) Still, what can we do about the trap we are caught in? Struggle to free ourselves, of course, but cunningly, I imagine, as we don't want to find ourselves with a limb torn off (or impaired some other way) as a consequence of our efforts to walk about freely, once we manage to disengage ourselves from the trap's inexorable fangs. It's a vile poison they contain, those fangs.
There is an assumption, though, in our struggle, an assumption that there is such a thing as freedom, that we'll be free if we're not caught in that web. But how can we be sure that whatever we will experience, once we escape from the web in which we're caught, will be "true freedom"? What is "true freedom" and how will it manifest?
Tibetan Buddhist teacher and Oxford University scholar Chögyam Trungpa, speaking at Naropa in Boulder, Colorado, in 1986, dismissed with a flick of his fan the idea that material/technological change in and of itself could make real freedom manifest. He's a guy with a large entourage, I thought as I watched him, listening to his talk, but I took a few notes and being a keeper of some things, I still have the notebook in which I jotted so I can report exactly what I heard him say, which was: "To give up arrogance, you need a teacher." He said you need a teacher to learn the basic things: "Fire is hot." "The sun rises in the east."
It was my assumption he meant the spiritual (ethical/moral) equivalent of "basic things" since he was responding to a direct question I'd asked him, having just come from an environment that was all about improving life in an ecologically economical way. Material life as spiritual impact-force, perhaps?
I can begin to wonder, now, how to parse analyzing the economy of scale of a spiritual system, but at that time it was not easy to reconcile Trungpa with Soleri. Hindsight and introspection have made this philosophically less problematic, but what has become more important is not so much the product than the process - which is, I take it, what Trungpa was getting at. What Soleri was also trying to get at, in his writing.
Unfortunately or not, Soleri, a lapsed Catholic, struck out on his own, pace Teilhard de Chardin. Gifted and talented as he was, Soleri did not study comparative religion - nor did he take teachers - much less students, of other religious traditions seriously enough to discover how much he had in common with them. While helping him prepare his Quaderno writings for publication some ten years ago, I discovered dangling threads, evocative of other 'Great Traditions' - of Judaism as well as of Buddhism, for example - but loosely, not stitched into his writing nor, really, his thinking. Not by direct reference nor even by considered reverence.
Intent on his own trajectory - (a guy-thing, perhaps: Trungpa's fan might have been a similar manifistation of personality; but that is only an impression) Soleri wrote religiosity religiously. "He can't write" one critic said of Soleri. Yet Soleri did write. He wrote out of need, out of compulsion, out of longing, out of hope. He wrote, searching for his muse, testing his voice, wishing - aching, even - to be heard.
Trapped in a web of his own weaving, he wove himself.